Increasing Omni-Channel Adoption With Associates

By Team - Doble Group, LLC 2015-02-27


Think of your favourite retail store. I’m sure you’ve been in one before so you know what the environment is like. Now try to think of it during a time when it’s particularly busy, perhaps during the holiday season. I’m just trying to help set a scene for you here, so really try and picture as much as you can about that store.

Now imagine you are an associate working at that store. Part of your role is to walk around and ask customers if they need help with anything at all.

During one of your walks you happen to notice a customer who is looking at something on your his or her mobile device, while at the same time looking at one of your products. You even notice this person taking pictures of the barcodes on your products. You decide to approach this customer and see if you can offer any assistance.

You: “Good morning, is there something I can help you with?”

Customer: “No thanks, I just noticed on my phone that another retailer is selling this same product at a lower price.”

Let’s stop the thought experiment there.

The Reality of Omni-Channel

On a webinar earlier this week, our CEO Carol Leaman explored the world of omni-channel retailing and some of the big challenges associated with it. She discussed some of the realities of the way digital channels are influencing sales and the changing expectations in the mind of consumers when they enter retail stores.

According to research from Retail TouchPoints, five big barriers to omni-channel success are:

1. Inaccurate Inventory
2. Actionable analytics
3. The Shifting Mindset of Consumers
4. Poor Integration of Systems
5. Lack of Employee Enthusiasm

The fifth barrier is what Carol spent the most time discussing. She mentioned that one of the most important and cost-effective steps a retail organization can take, in order to increase the success of their omni-channel strategy is to focus on improving this fifth barrier.

How Toys”R”Us Canada is Tackling the Fifth Barrier

On the webinar, Carol shared the story of how Toys”R”Us Canada is tackling the challenge of executing an omni-channel strategy at the store level. In order to be successful, what they realized is that their front-line associates needed to be educated and buy-in to the importance of omni-channel in an engaging way.

Their solution was to leverage a bite-sized, gamified and personalized approach to associate training, which focused on three specific levels of understanding:

1. What – What is omni-channel?
2. Why – Why is it important to the customer, to our organization and to YOU?
3. How – How do you make omni-channel happen day-to-day?

Here are some of the results Toys”R”Us Canada saw from leveraging this approach:

Consistent execution at the store level
High levels of voluntary participation in training
Significant knowledge growth in topics surrounding omni-channel
Behavior change exhibited by associates at the store level
Let’s go back to the thought experiment.

Customer: “No thanks, I just noticed on my phone that another retailer is selling this same product at a lower price.”

Imagine that you did not know how to respond in this situation and what you came up with ended up resulting in the customer leaving the store and your organization losing a sale. Remember it’s a busy season, so imagine that this same interaction happened simultaneously in a different part of your store and then across multiple stores across the country (or even the globe).

This is the reality of how consumers behave today and it truly underscores the importance of the role an associate plays in executing a successful omni-channel strategy.

If you’re interested in watching the full-recording of viewing the webinar slides, they are both available on-demand now.

Reference: Axonify